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February 10, 1984

Implantable assist pump—final heart option?

JAMA. 1984;251(6):700-701. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340300010003

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A new prosthetic heart device, the implantable left ventricular assist pump, may benefit as many as 10,000 limited-option patients with congestive heart failure each year when it becomes available in the next decade, according to William Pierce, MD, professor of surgery, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey.

"There are large numbers of patients who have end-stage left ventricular failure [following either ischemic heart disease or primary cardiomyopathy], who are too old to be transplanted, and [who] are already on maximum medical therapy," Pierce said. When digitalis, diuretics, and vasodilators (as well as the new inotropic drugs, such as amiodarone) fail to relieve their symptoms, these patients will become possible candidates for implantation.

The estimate of 10,000 patients a year may be high, Pierce admits, but with well over $50 million invested in the pump's development over the last ten years by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI),